Bargain hunters greet opening of Primark's new Belfast branch
Up to 200 shoppers queued in the rain to be among the first to enter Primark's new store in Belfast city centre yesterday.
Blue balloons, small bottles of water and mint sweets were their rewards, however, as the three-storey Fountain House outlet at Donegall Place threw open its doors at 9.30am.
Bargain hunters, armed with massive shopping bags that Primark staff handed out to everyone as they filed in through the main entrance, revelled in over 24,000 sq ft devoted to the latest fashion.
The new outlet is in addition to the extension on Castle Street that opened at the rear of Bank Buildings in December following a devastating fire at the end of August that brought Belfast city centre to its knees.
Shoppers at Fountain House can now fill their baskets with menswear, clothes for children and homewear, while womenswear will be the preserve of its sister store just around the corner.
In a statement, the company said that the opening of both retail units "has created over 70 new jobs for the local area".
Primark added: "The new store showcases three floors of fashion over 24,000 sq ft of retail space and features the latest trends in menswear, kidswear, home and luggage, whilst womenswear, accessories and beauty ranges will continue to be offered in our Castle Street store."
Retail NI boss Glyn Roberts, who was there for the grand opening and admitted he picked up a few wardrobe staples, said it was good news for Belfast.
"I was delighted to pop in and pick a few T-shirts," he said.
"It's a further addition to the retail offering in the city centre and it will be instrumental in generating footfall where it's most needed. It's a sure sign that we're getting back on our feet.
"We've definitely moved another step forward, but we must remember that there is still a long way to go when it comes to making Belfast one of the top retail destinations in the UK."
The August blaze, which burned for three days, was a major blow to the centre of Belfast, badly hitting businesses, and was described as the biggest crisis to face the city since the Troubles.
However, a number of retailers forced to close have since reopened, while the safety cordon that has been in place since the fire is expected to be reduced further in June.